I'm a freelance UX designer working in an industry where only a few of the largest companies have UX designers or UX groups. Currently, I'm looking for new projects and contacting specific people in hundreds of organizations. I focus on digital products, and most of the other organizations approach their websites and other digital products from a purely web design and/or marketing approach.

Several of these prospects have told me that they already have new websites/apps/etc. under development and the designers are already picked out. They haven't given me names so far of design companies that they have hired for their projects. (To clarify, none have said "Don't bother us" yet, but the replies are short and to the point.) I've been offering to conduct usability studies or other evaluations for them along the way to help them see if they are on the right path with a design or not, but no takers yet.

What strategies/responses have proven effective for you in selling UX in this situation when all that prospects think they need is web design, graphic design, and/or marketing?

  • 1
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about marketing UX services. Oct 1, 2014 at 14:00
  • @JoshuaBarron It's here instead of Freelancing.SE because UX practitioners could answer it better.
    – David
    Oct 1, 2014 at 14:04
  • 2
    It's hard to get companies WITH UX TEAMS to 'get' UX so I can only imagine how daunting it is to do this via cold calls. I wish you luck! :)
    – DA01
    Oct 1, 2014 at 15:05
  • @DA01 +1. I'm using warm emails rather than cold calls, but a similar principle to your comment and dan1111's answer applies. Thanks! :-)
    – David
    Oct 1, 2014 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


A few points:

  1. Cold calling is very hard. You will have a very low success rate no matter what. That would be true even if everyone valued user experience design highly. Try to pursue ways of getting business through connections and relationships.
  2. Not hiring a "UX designer" does not equal devaluing UX. Your assumption appears to be that unless a company has someone with your job title, they won't get good user experience results. This is not true. There are many web design and software development companies that do user experience very well, even though they may not have someone externally-facing with this specific role. Given that you don't have visibility of these products in development, you don't actually know who has a need for your services. You need to find a way to target companies that actually have a need--such as by looking at existing products that are clearly deficient in design.
  3. Sell the benefit of good user experience. You will improve users' experience of the company's products, but...so what? What will the company get out of that? (in some cases, not much...clunky software is often quite successful in niche markets, which aren't big enough to support a lot of competition. And established products can dominate the market, despite not being very good, simply because they are familiar and broadly used). Focus on cases where there would be a clear benefit to improving the user experience, then sell that benefit.
  4. Seek business from other design companies. If all companies think they need is a web designer, maybe your approach should be to web designers rather than companies hiring web designers. A small company or freelancer may be more receptive to you than an established buyer of design services, and you may be able to develop a partnership arrangement.
  • +1. To clarify, I use warm emails as my main initial prospecting technique. I'm not sending the same email to everyone (spam) or calling them initially. Warm emails involve identifying relevant, recent events that have happened with a prospect or their company and establishing a meaningful connection with the prospect based on that. Warm email success rates (or at least response rates) are somewhat higher than cold calls.
    – David
    Oct 1, 2014 at 15:18
  • Also, I really like point 4. I've started networking with web designers and physical-world UX designers who work in the same industry and have gotten much better responses from them so far.
    – David
    Oct 1, 2014 at 15:19
  • @David, thanks for clarifying. But I think the distinction between having a connection and not having one is much bigger than "cold" vs. "warm".
    – user31143
    Oct 2, 2014 at 6:13

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.